26 Feb 2010

A Simple Hobbit Pipe - Every Hobbit Should Have One !

"In fact, it has been remarked by some that Hobbits real passion is for food...a rather unfair observation as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales and the smoking of pipe-weed...." (Concerning Hobbit -Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins)

An avid pipe smoker, Tolkien enjoyed his pipe smoking very much so it is no surprise that the smoking of pipes takes such an important role in his stories. Hobbits, Men, and Dwarves all enjoy a smoke every now and then. As it is, I am in the process of making some Hobbit clothes and accessories and the hobbit pipe did represent a bit of a challenge. I do not smoke in real life and I did not want to spend a small fortune on a Hobbit Pipe replicas, so I started thinking about making a non-functional but realistic pipe myself by using bits and pieces from my garden and made a sketch of how I wanted my pipe to look like.

It all started with the hunt for the perfect wood for the stem and for the barrel - a nice tree from my front garden was kind enough to supply me with a suitable stick for the stem, while the barrel came from a fallen branch from a tree in the back yard. The wood was not green or too dry , to make it easy to work with and less prone to snapping. I decided against making a clay pipe, choosing instead a rustic, home-made Hobbit pipe that many simple folks in the Shire would have on their mantelpiece. It took me about two weeks to complete the pipe - here is how I did it :

I cut the stem stick to my preferred length and then used a small knife to clear the bark from the steam and from barrel. When working with any tools one need to remember to be very careful to avoid accidents.

With the bark stripped, I clamped the wood for the barrel tightly and I used my drill with a flat wood bit on my preferred size to drill the tobacco hole. You really need to be careful not to drill through your piece of wood and to centre the drill bit well to avoid splitting. I then used a smaller flat wood bit to fit the diameter of the stem-stick to drill a hole on the side of the barrel where I wanted my stem to go. Once this was done it was time to assemble the pipe. I used wood glue in the smaller hole and pushed the steam making sure to clean all the excess glue and let the pipe to dry for a couple of days

Once completely dry the pipe was ready for some sanding and smoothing. I decided to add a little personal touch as I am making Frodo's costume - I used a very fine brush and dark brown acrylic paint to write the name FRODO BAGGINS around the top of the barrel. Finally I gave the pipe two coats of varnish and let it dry. All done! Frodo's pipe is ready. Not usable and not as fancy as other pipes, and not perfect but made with love by a hobbit for a hobbit :)